Looking back, there are a handful of memories that define my years with rabbits. March 31, 2001 was the day we brought our first rabbit home. March 1, 2002, we added our second. On June 29, 2003, our first litter was born.
On January 9, 2005, our family traveled to purchase our first purebred Holland Lop. She was a broken tort doe named Leah, and she cost $75. Before we left, her breeder showed us a solid tort buck and said she’d add him on for $25.
For $100, we brought home our first pair of Hollands.
I’m not a math person. So incase you’re thinking my brain stores numbers in organized files, I promise you it doesn’t. I still add with my fingers and calculate 20% off sales with the calculator on my phone. But the gravity of a situation can influence even the most clueless mathematician.
I still vividly remember “that buck” cautiously peering out of his carrier on a snowy day in 2005. We called him “Donovan,” and that moment was the beginning of nearly nine years with him.
Donovan passed away on January 31, 2014, more than nine years after we brought him home. He would have turned 10 in May.
As cliche as it sounds, it’s difficult to put nearly a decade of our lives into words. Those who have had long-term pets understand what I mean. There are so many little moments over the years that overshadow show wins or litters he sired.
The things I remember most are laying in the grass, while Donovan hopped happily around me. The days our rabbitry was simply four cages set up on our sun porch. The way Donovan “held on” when we carried him. Sitting in the warm sun at a baseball game with Donovan in my lap. Feeling the autumn breeze as he sat with us while we watched a fall soccer game.
I talk a lot about breeding, raising rabbits, and exhibition because it’s a “sport” I enjoy. But that part of rabbits is only a tiny, tiny fraction of my lifetime with rabbits. Most of the memories I have are the 360 days of the year when I’m not at a show – I’m simply here at the house, enjoying the animals who share our home.
Donovan is so loved and will be missed in ways that are difficult to describe. The 31st is another day that will stand out in my memory because it changed my life so significantly. I only vaguely remember ever NOT being greeted by Donovan as I walked into the rabbitry. And someday, I know we will see each other again.
See you later, buddy. You remain a part of Oak Ridge’s past, present, and future.